Quick Film Review: Alien: Covenant

This post is shorter and less detailed than my usual posts but I thought I’d just share my initial thoughts on Alien: Covenant.

So after watching a string of recent and ultimately disappointing films over the last few days I decided I’d review one. When it comes to writing a review of a film that is long into a series, it’s usually not that difficult to point out the flaws. I mean my initial choice was actually going to be the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean film and after writing up a draft post I realised that it merely pointed out the obvious. I can’t imagine anyone watched that film and left with the opinion of it being the best in the series. After a few more I eventually settled on Alien: Covenant which I wasn’t even going to watch in the first place. I always found the Alien and Predator films to be a little underwhelming, to be honest. They are a solid part of the sci-fi/thriller genre but I always found the storyline to be somewhat tedious and predictable. Prometheus was the film that I thought would be the diamond in the rough: this play on the franchise could have explored such interesting ideas and concepts but ultimately found itself flung into mediocrity by poor and lazy writing. This model that is used for producing these films is simplistic and moronic and quite honestly I think the writers just give a pen and a notebook to their kids and say “rewrite this story but with your own characters and twists”.

 

So yes, there will be spoilers in this post but quite honestly I can put my hand on my heart and promise you that if you spend two hours watching paint dry then it will have been a better use of your time than watching this film! I can summarise the film (in fact the series in general) quite simply: “I’m going to do the thing!” “I don’t think you should do the thing…” Does the thing anyway and everybody dies…One of the issues with this series is the order the films go in. There are prequels, sequels and spin-offs just to keep everybody guessing. One of the consistent elements is Weyland Industries which for some reason, despite repeated incidents that end with a high percentage of dead crew members, never seems to put any protocols in place to help avoid them. I mean you could maybe excuse the first three times but how many are there? Like 10 or something? C’mon!

 

In this particular film it seems as if the crew were hired based on their high levels of irrationality and low problem solving abilities. We see the wonderful example of this fairly early on when the first guy is infected by this organism. After being sprayed in the mouth with infected blood from an infected individual, one crew member locks her friend and the previously mentioned infected crew member in a room. I’d say this is the smart move (ignoring the obvious fact that quarantine doesn’t serve much of a purpose if you’ve just been sprayed in the mouth with blood that could potentially infect you and you’re on the wrong side of the quarantine door) but of course, this film has no intelligent crew members. So once this alien creature bursts out the back (rather than chest, probably to show that it’s a slightly different species) the woman then opens the doors, runs in, slips on blood, shoots a bunch of shit and ultimately dooms the crew to being stranded on this planet by blowing up the fucking ship.

 

Keeping on track with shoddy character development (don’t even get me started on the completely unnecessary video of James Franco that we watched after his immediate death) we have the now Captain who claims the crew don’t trust him because of his faith. Apparently being religious makes him the target of discrimination and prejudice on this trip…I disagree. Having watching this man consistently fuck up and make poor decisions, not even mentioning his general lack of emotional maturity, I think there are a whole list of reasons ahead of his faith as to why people don’t want him to be captain. It also seems that there are annoying parallels to Prometheus in this film in the sense that women seem doomed to lose their partners to viruses. I mean I’m not sure if this film is supposed to be tense or if the writers think that they’ve added mind-blowing twists but I found myself completely unsurprised by the storyline. It was like watching a classic stabber-horror. Oh, you think the bad guy is dead and that the film will end on a slightly positive note? WRONG! Oh, the camera is zooming in on the cupboard, I wonder if something is about to jump out? Alien: Covenant is the exact same situation. Oh look, a woman is on her own after we just saw an alien going towards where they were. Oh look, the creepy android is taking the captain down into a basement. I wonder what could go wrong? I mean just look at the point when David and Walter are fighting: the camera cuts out as Walter lifts a rock to crush David’s head just after showing us that David is reaching for a knife. Do they really think that we’re unaware of it not being Walter that returns?

 

Getting into the final moments of the film we have alarms going off and warnings being announced across some sort of PA system controlled by “Mother”. For some reason when designing this ship and Mother, nobody though that in an emergency situation where alarms and warnings are supposed to be alarming and warning crew members that it may be vital to override their fucking shower music systems to allow them to hear said alarms and warnings! I mean is that seriously how these writers are playing this film? “These warnings are super loud so why can’t this couple hear them?” “I know, let’s make them fuck in the shower while listening to ridiculously loud music that for some reason the AI on the ship doesn’t override!” This moment of bad writing is only followed by another:  main woman character and emotionally unstable Danny McBride character are chasing the alien. Keep in mind that not only do they know  exactly where the alien is thanks to a handy little blip on the map…but they also have full control over the doors. So rather than locking the alien in a corridor until they think of a way to deal with it, they allow the showering couple to die and then instead decide to lure the alien to an airlock. Just when you think they might stop under-thinking things, they allow the alien into the room before they are at the places they need to be. The woman only avoids being eaten because the alien gets its leg caught on a bit of metal. They had all the time in the world to prepare!

 

Ridley Scott claims that he can keep the story going for another 6 films…no, no he cannot! He can’t even keep the story together for one film so I don’t know why his delusions aren’t being questioned by those closest to him but seriously dude, your “quit while you’re ahead” moment came and went a LONG time ago! Stop digging holes that you can’t get out of. We don’t need more alien prequels or sequels. We could have gone on to have an interesting Prometheus sequel that explored this race of aliens whose DNA we came from rather than wiping them out in a 30 second flashback. How film series’ like this can just run on and on endlessly without any signs of stopping despite their lack of story or general entertainment is beyond confusing. Ridley Scott seems to be amazing at skipping interesting storylines in favour of generic action scenes and shallow storylines with little character development. These films aren’t even thrillers any more. At no point did I feel the slightest bit of tension watching Alien: Covenant. Mr Scott, if you need someone to write the storyline for whatever moronic instalment of this franchise you have lined up, I’m pretty sure my dog is free…

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